Liverpool are closely monitoring highly-rated Colombian starlet Kevin Mantilla.
The 20-year-old centre-back, who plays for Talleres, is being scouted by Jurgen Klopp’s Reds following his rise to prominence in 2023.
We’ve compiled everything you need to know about the rising star, who looks set to make a headline-making move to Europe in the coming years.
The story so far
Mantilla was born in 2003 in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, and grew up playing football in the parks of the Torremolinos district.
As a youth, Mantilla played as an attacker but transitioned into a centre-back after joining Independiente Santa Fe’s academy.
He soon rose through the ranks to progress to first-team contention, making his Sante Fe debut as an 18-year-old in 2022.
The youngster quickly became an important first-team regular and notched up 26 appearances during that debut campaign; one in which they finished fourth in the final aggregate table and qualified for the Copa Sudamericana, South America’s Europa League equivalent.
His stock would rise further in 2023, particularly on the international stage. Mantilla is yet to make his senior debut for Colombia but featured prominently as their Under-20s finished third in the South American U-20 Championship last January – it was there that Liverpool’s scouts reportedly first noticed him.
He then featured as Los Cafeteros made it to the quarter-finals of the Under-20 World Cup in Argentina, and a short while later transferred to Argentinian club Talleres for a €1.8million fee.
Mantilla played eight times for Talleres as they finished runners-up to River Plate in the 2023 Argentine Primera Division, qualifying for the Copa Libertadores in the process.
Given he’s only been at Talleres for six months, you’d imagine that he’ll remain there to continue his development for the time being – but Liverpool are continuing to keep close tabs on his progress.
Style of play
The immediately striking thing about Mantilla is his imposing 6’3″ frame, while Football Talent Scout have noted he’s similar in playing style to Sergio Ramos. No pressure, kid.
Mantilla is right-footed and has tended to line up as the right-sided centre-back in a back four, although he has on occasion played as a right-back.
He has an aggressive, front-foot defending style that’s based around winning aerial duels and snapping into tackles. He’s also a vocal presence, suggesting a future as the leader at the back.
It’s also been noted that the 20-year-old is already adept in terms of positional awareness. Passing-wise, Mantilla tends to keep it simple and looks to recycle possession by finding the safe option.
Kevin Mantilla vs Brasil. Sudamericano Sub 20.
Seguro con el balón en los pies. Fuerte en los duelos e imponiéndose, manejando bien los dueños 1v1 teniendo buena lectura de su rival, fuerte en el juego aéreo y tiempista para ir al tackle. pic.twitter.com/wPdjq5lhXt
— A Un Toque (@AUnToque_Co) January 26, 2023
What’s been said
“It’s true, they [Liverpool] have been following him for four months now,” Talleres’ president Andres Fassi said, as reported by Colombian outlet La Voz (via Sport Witness ).
“And they asked us for information about his physical records.”
“At the moment there is only interest from Liverpool, as well as Brighton. But there is no formal offer,” Colombian journalist Juan Bee told The Red Men TV , further confirming Liverpool’s interest.
“Mantilla has been a wish for Liverpool since the Under-20 Championships in which Liverpool served as a scout.”
“Regardless of where Mantilla decides to continue his career in the upcoming months he will one day excel at the highest level of football,” assesses Football Talent Scout .
“With his exceptional leadership and ever improving defensive abilities, he will force at the back for wherever he decides to play for and will be a leader of Colombia’s defence for years to come.”